x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hospitality opportunities for local students in the UAE

Tie-up between Intercontinental Hotel Group and Amity University aims to produce more hospitality graduates for the local job market.

DUBAI // Amity University and the InterContinental Hotel group have teamed up to offer better job opportunities to hospitality students.

A lack of courses and internship prospects has so far meant hotels have had to hire staff from overseas.

Only a handful of local universities and colleges offer specialist degrees or diplomas in tourism, one of the UAE’s major industries. The programme at Amity, set up when the Indian branch campus university launched two years ago, is among them.

“There isn’t a big selection of students here we can take in locally,” said Anis Fares, human resources director at the Crowne Plaza Sheikh Zayed Road, one of three properties working with Amity.

“Very few universities are offering hospitality studies. The intention is to have internships and, ultimately, to recruit the students once they graduate.”

Diana Bolbol, 21, is about to enter her second year of the course.

“Doing the work experience has made me realise the job itself is even better than I imagined,” she said. “In the kitchens, I realised how much theory there was behind it and it was great to have that opportunity to apply the theory we had learnt in class in an actual working kitchen. I learn much better that way.”

Fatima Mohammed, 19, is also going into her second year. She struggled to find the course she wanted within the country.

“Many of the universities didn’t offer this programme for me so Amity was a good option.”

She said her two-month internship at the Crowne Plaza was a stimulating experience, teaching her something new each day while she worked in the sales and marketing department and the front office. “I would be excited to go to work every day,” she said.

The IHG group is training students in all departments, including housekeeping, kitchens, front of house and sales. The programme is based in three hotels, the Holiday Inn in Downtown, Crowne Plaza on Sheikh Zayed Road and Crowne Plaza in Deira. Placements vary from a few weeks for skills courses like kitchen work to six-month placements in sales.

Pedram Rahimi, 22, who is about to enter his third and final year of the course, has spent six months doing an internship in the Downtown property. “I’ve learnt a lot since doing this course ... It’s helped me to really understand the workings of a hotel,” he said.

Mr Fares said it is difficult to fill positions with local candidates.

“It will be great to have the workforce hired locally with graduates rather than just bringing the talent from overseas. IHG wants to be able to recruit locally,” he said.

“This is supporting the community. Many of the students are residents in Dubai and have families here and want to be settled here so are looking for jobs in Dubai.”

Mariam Al Shaikh, head of enrolment, said the partnership has boosted the popularity of the course.

“The first thing parents ask is will they get a placement and jobs, so when they hear about the partnership, they sign up straight away. It’s such a big brand that they know there are set standards.”

mswan@thenational.ae